Photo by Steve Mitchell

Teresa Mitchell, co-owner of Rocking Horse Bakery, worked on some of the 147 fresh pies the bakery’s staff made for distribution.

Annual food drive attracts donations, volunteers from all over the community

Photo by Marcy Stamper

Contributions covered every food group.

By Marcy Stamper

Four hundred sixty-seven people in the Methow Valley got the fixings for a special holiday meal last weekend — plus staples to help them through the next few months — from Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN), the Methow’s annual food drive.

This year NHN volunteers packed 144 baskets with everything from turkeys, to celery and onions for stuffing, to extras like butter and enchilada sauce. Donated foods came from all across the valley. Students at Methow Valley Elementary School (the biggest contributors of nonperishables for the cupboard) easily surpassed their goal of 2,000 items, said NHN coordinator Jennifer Elden.

Photo by Marcy Stamper

A wide variety of items went into each food box.

The Channing brothers, who farm on the Twisp River, donated potatoes and Chelan Fruit donated apples, said Elden. Kids in the local 4-H club made dozens of festive candy balls.

Rocking Horse Bakery gathered seven volunteers to bake 147 pies — pumpkin, marionberry, apple and strawberry — said bakery co-owner Steve Mitchell. This is the first year people got homemade pies, and the first time they’ll get eggnog to go with the dessert, said Elden.

Photo courtesy of Fire District 6

Fire District 6’s Twisp crew displayed donations they collected from local doorsteps.

While the holiday baskets are greatly appreciated by people who otherwise have trouble making ends meet, the experience is enriching for the legions of volunteers, many of whom have helped out for years.

Photo courtesy of Fire District 6

District 6 firefighters from Winthrop also found plenty to pick up from local doorsteps.

Mary Ann Quigley, her daughters and grandchildren have volunteered every year for a dozen years. “It feels wonderful at Christmas, when people are thinking of themselves or the people they know and love, to do something for others,” said Quigley. “It makes you feel connected as a community, and feel we care about each other.”

Photo by Marcy Stamper

Volunteers of all ages helped pack boxes for delivery.

Another volunteer said she’s always humbled to understand the difficult circumstances of some of her neighbors, such as 10 people who share a single trailer.

“It’s a wonderful example of how everyone in the valley comes together and works hard. There are a lot of people who need this, and a lot with time and energy to contribute. And the organization is mind-blowing,” said volunteer Kathy Merwin.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Elden

Methow Valley Elementary School collected more than 2,000 items.

In addition to the food, each family gets a hand-made card created by students from various schools around the valley. Cards also go to residents of Jamie’s Place and clients of the Guardian Angels and Methow at Home, said NHN volunteer Mary Ann Kirkland.

Elden ticked off a few stats from an inventory of donated food. That included 250 cans of fruit, 430 soups, 530 packages of ramen, 450 canned or boxed dinners, 195 jars of peanut butter, and an impressive 2,700 apples and 2,700 potatoes.

Any food that didn’t go into the holiday baskets will be distributed through The Cove.